Echo 8 February 01
Storms one week, floods the next has certainly provided a bad start to
celebrate the year of the volunteers. Many workers and volunteers who had
already contributed valuable time and energy to helping those most affected from
the devastating storms, have now had to face another disaster; the floods. The
professional combination of Councils, government departments and volunteer
organisations in establishing operational centres and support services was
commendable and greatly assisted the quick and organised clean up of the area.
Special thanks must also go to the employers and families of these volunteers
who have provided time and support to allow them to carry out their duties. I
would like to thank Bob Debus, Minister for Emergency Services for his immediate
response to visit Casino. Then during the recent floods, I appreciated the visit
by Premier Bob Carr and Mr Harry Woods, Minister for Local Government for their
time to come to the Lismore electorate, which resulted and enabled an inspection
by air of the Kyogle, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield and Lismore Council shires
being declared Natural Disaster areas. To everyone, I simply say thank you for
your cooperation in a time of need.
Application forms for Natural Disaster Assistance Schemes are available from
my office for small business, primary producers, sporting, churches and non
profit organisations. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact
State-based Dairy Assistance Must Flow
Last week an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE)
report was released on dairy deregulation. The report identifies NSW as one of
the worst affected States under deregulation - it found NSW farmers have
suffered a 29 per cent drop in their average farm-gate milk price and that an
estimated 200 NSW dairy farms have shut down since deregulation. The devastating
findings highlight the need for the NSW Government to provide financial support
to this State's dairy farmers, on top of the Federally coordinated $1.7 billion
assistance package - something I and the NSW National Party has been trying to
obtain from the Carr Government for over 18 months. The Western Australian
Government is providing a $27 million assistance package for its industry and
communities. The NSW dairy industry is more than three times the size of the
Western Australian industry and deserves the same support on a pro rata basis.
The Carr Government will receive $156.5 million in national competition policy
payments from the Federal Government in 2000-01. I believe at least some, if not
all, of that money should be devoted to a State-based package. The dairy
industry is the fifth largest rural industry in NSW and produces goods valued at
$1.4 billion each year. Farmers need a helping hand outside of the Federally
coordinated package. Clearly that should come from the State Government.
Currently I am waiting on confirmation of a visit by the Dairy Deregulation
Impact and Assessment Committee that hope to be travelling to the North Coast
towards the end of February.
Changes to Green Slips
Under the new system, a new category has been created of people aged over
55, whom insurance companies can not add any loading to the premium price. This
effectively means that sole parents and disability pensioners are no longer
eligible for a discount based on their income. The Coalition believes that no
pensioner should be worse off under the new motor accident compensation scheme.
A Greenslips Watch Committee has been established to closely monitor green slip
prices, particularly for single parents and disabled persons on a pension, who
are not protected by a cap from further increases. I would encourage any
business or individual who has experienced a significant price increase in the
green slip premium to contact my office on 6621 3624. A petition is also
Call for Stamp Duty cut
Together with the National Party, I have backed calls from regional business
owners for the Carr Labor Government to cut stamp duty rates outside the
metropolitan area. Property Council figures released this week indicate the Carr
Government has reaped a 30% windfall on stamp duty for house sales over the past
2 years - taking its stamp duty income from this source to $4.2 billion - the
highest of any state.
School Student Transport Scheme Review
A recent review of this scheme is yet to be reported on and unfortunately
the recommendations arising from this evaluation has been delayed. Anyone
interested in this report should contact my office so that when more advice is
to hand, I can provide a copy.